Atmospheric CO2 estimates for the last 17 million years based on foraminiferal δ11B at Ocean Drilling Program Sites 806 and 807 in the Western Equatorial Pacific

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Maxence Guillermic, Sambuddha Misra, Robert Eagle , Aradhna Tripati


Constraints on the evolution of atmospheric CO2 levels throughout Earth’s history are foundational to our understanding of past variations in climate. Despite considerable effort, estimates of past CO2 levels do not always converge. Here we reconstruct atmospheric CO2 values across major climate transitions over the past 17 million years using the boron isotopic composition (δ11B) of planktic foraminifera from 89 samples obtained from two sites in the West Pacific Warm Pool, Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Sites 806 and 807. These sites are in a region that today is in equilibrium with the atmosphere, despite equatorial divergence, and is likely to have been in equilibrium with the atmosphere for the interval studied. We use high-precision multi-collector inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry and show that data from these sites can reproduce the ice core record. Estimates of early Miocene pCO2 are generally higher than published reconstructions from other sites, while values for the Pliocene and Pleistocene are more similar to other datasets. We find evidence for reductions in pCO2 of ~280 µatm during the Middle Miocene Climate Transition, ~270 µatm during Pliocene Glacial Intensification, and ~50 µatm during the Mid-Pleistocene Climate Transition. There is possible evidence for a larger reduction in glacial pCO2 during the Mid-Pleistocene Transition compared to interglacial pCO2, and a minimum in pCO2 during glacial MIS 30. Our results are consistent with a strong coupling between pCO2, temperature and ice sheet expansion throughout the past 17 million years.



Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


CO2, climate, Miocene, ODP Site 806, ODP Site 807


Published: 2020-12-13 17:06


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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